Pay abuses 'very unlikely'

Collusion with council, staff would be needed to pull off salary scams
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Scandals over grossly overpaid city administrators and elected officials have locals wondering if the same could happen in Loomis. According to Perry Beck, town manager, it’s “very unlikely.” Beck said in some Southern California cities recently making headlines “there had to be collusion between council and staff to scam the system.” “Our council is not a cohesive body,” Beck said. Beck also said that all five council members have check-signing responsibility and “each council member does, at one time or another, sign checks.” “It’s another set of eyes,” Beck said. He also said Loomis is a general law city – not a charter city – and the town is required to submit many more reports to the state. Some Loomis residents agree with Beck. “It wouldn’t happen here. We’re too community oriented. Everybody would know,” said Jennifer Knisley, a member of the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Committee. For her efforts on the committee, Knisley is paid $300 each year. “I didn’t even know we got paid anything when I got on the committee,” Knisley said. Roger Carroll, town finance director, said 79 percent of Loomis’ $2.8 annual budget is spent on employees. That includes town staff with payroll and benefits of $934,000 and $1.3 million that is spent on law enforcement. “Eighty percent is normal for government and service industries,” Carroll said. Salaries for Loomis staff are: Beck, town manager, $116,875; Brian Fragiao, town engineer, $110,205; Kathy Kerdus, planning director, $99,127; and Carroll, finance director, $96,749. Loomis resident Madan Sidher said he doesn’t have a problem with the salary of top town employees. “I think it’s OK because they work hard,” Sidher said. As to staff retirements, Carroll said Loomis employees participate in the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). “You have to work for five years for a PERS city before you qualify. The pension amount is based on number of years of PERS service – two percent of the average of the three highest years of pay times the number of years of service,” Carroll said. In other words, said Carroll, retirement “is funded while they’re working. The money has been set aside and earns interest.” Carroll said that “each city is responsible for its proportionate share of the annual pension” when an employee has worked for multiple cities. “Our plan with PERS … is fully funded, which is to say that our current annual contributions … are considered sufficient to cover the future pensions to be paid out,” Carroll said. Carroll said the town would make no further pension contributions once an employee retires. Where some public agencies get stuck, Carroll explained, is when they’ve promised retirees full lifetime medical benefits. He said public agencies are not covered by PERS for post-employment benefits. He said Loomis retirees will only receive $165 per month in lifetime medical insurance benefits upon retirement. According to Carroll, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, the town paid $114,700 in retirement costs on a gross payroll of $849,200. Carroll estimated the annual retirement income for eligible city employees if they were to retire at the end of 2010. He said the annual pension for Beck would be $45,600; Fragiao, $43,200; Kerdus, $58,200; and Carroll, $24,400. These amounts do not include any other retirement pensions they may have from previous PERS employers. ----------------- LOOMIS PUBLIC OFFICIALS’ SALARIES Manager: $116,875 annually Engineer: $110,205 annually Planning director: $99,127 annually Finance director: $96,749 annually Council: $4,600 annually, no retirement Source: Town of Loomis